Our brains are mysterious. No matter how long we ponder them, many of our questions remain unanswered. And the parts that are better understood by scientists remain hard to comprehend for many. A neuroscientist-turned-designer, however, has found a way to present neuroscience that’s giving us a new way of thinking.
Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya, discouraged by how little people understood the science she was working with, decided to help the public better appreciate neuroscientific research. She called the project The Leading Strand, which is a term for part of the process of DNA replication. Its first exhibit was called Neurotransmission. Through design and science, the people behind the project aimed to reestablish the importance of neuroscience and what it does and can do for people. It took two months for the scientists and designers involved to plan how to share neuroscientific research in a visual way, and when it opened it was a big hit.
The exhibit was made up of five parts, each with its own designer and scientist. One pair worked on composing a song that showed the way memory works. People would draw on a computer screen and their input would then change the music it played.
The exhibit also involved a kinetic sculpture that showed the way neurons send signals to allow functions such as limb movement. The audience had to participate—someone would pull a crank to represent a neuron signaling, but if the neuron was alone, nothing would happen. This way, participants learned that limb movement and other functions require multiple neurons working together.
Another part of the exhibit showcased a chatbot named Exley that helps break down how physical activity can improve mood, sleep, appetite, memory and more. Participants give Exley a daily report of exercise, brain function, energy, etc., and it reports back weekly on the overall effect their daily activity has had.
The other aspects of the exhibit involved a documentary and a test to learn more about how the brain works with behavior and memory. Each part of the exhibit worked to make people more informed and comfortable in understanding complex aspects of neuroscience. This is an important purpose in an age that is constantly surpassing previously drawn boundaries for scientific discoveries.
Did You Know?
The neurons in our three-pound brains can send information at more than 200 miles per hour. When your hand touches something hot, the sensory neurons in your skin send the information to your brain at 150 miles per hour. Then your brain can send the order to move your hand away via motor neurons that can travel at more than 200 miles per hour.
Image credit: Chempetitive